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London - A travel report by Terry
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London,  United Kingdom - flag United Kingdom
6205 readers

terje's travel reports

The Magnetic Metropol(e)

  20 votes
Page: 1 2
It is difficult, if not impossible, to describe my feelings for London. There's just something about it, and I share my passion with millions of Londoners. From my first visit in 1986 as a youngster, until today, I keep asking myself; when do I return? report of the month contest
Aug 2006

London Bridge
London Bridge
Most foreigners arrive in London via one of 4 major airports, of which London Heatrow is the biggest, in fact the fourth biggest in the world. From all airports there is well established trainservices directly to railway stations in central London. They might be expensive, but so is "everything" in London.
London Underground system is the oldest in the world, service started in 1863. 12 lines, and 274 stations, all displayed on the famous coloured Tube-map. A single ticket costs £3,00, but a day card cost £4,90 and is therefor a lot cheaper.
London Taxis are maybe just as famous as the Tube, and are called Hackney Carriage or just Black Cab. There is a lot of them, and taxis are surprisingly cheap, at least compared with norwegian prices. An alternative is so-called "minicabs", private taxi's only allowed to take pre-booked tours.
And finally, the London buses. Who of us does not know the famous double-deckers, popular called Routemasters. Unfortunately, the Routemasters are gradually removed from service and replaced with modern buses, like the Enviro 400. Try route 9 or 15, which partly is operated by routemasters.

London offers 4 World Heritage Sites;
* Tower of London - Medieval castle built by William the Conqueror in 1070. Home of the White Tower, The Crown Jewels and the Beefeeters.
* Westminster Abbey/Palace - The coronation church of England and the houses of Parliament. This is also where Big Ben "lives"
* Kew Gardens - The royal botanical gardens, opened in 1759. One of the largest collection of plants in the world.
* Maritime Greenwich - The observatory which houses the reference for all world time zones, and the 0-meridian. Greenwich also has royal and maritime relations. The record-breaker Cutty Sark is displayed here.

Favourite spots:
St. Martin in the Fields
St. Martin in the Fields
Famous churches of London includes:
* St. Pauls Cathedral - a symbol of the City, on the top of Ludgate Hill. Designed by the famous Sir Christopher Wren. Marvellous view from the tower, try the whispering gallery and eat your lunch at Paternoster Square.
* The Temple Church - a church with new fame, after "Da Vinci Code". Built by the Knights Templar. See further description of The Temple below.
*St. Martin in the Fields - located at Trafalgar Square, recognized for it's campaign for homeless people and for its music (see below).
* St. Clement Danes - a church that was built before the norman invasion. The church is located where Alwych meets Strand and Fleet Street. Beautiful place to rest if you are walking.
* St. Olaves church - named after the norwegian King Olav. Beautiful tower, but a little hidden near Tower. The Tooley street on south bank is derived from St. Olav.
* St. Bartholomew the great - the most significant norman interior in London

What's really great:
Elms court - Inner Temple
Elms court - Inner Temple
My 3 favourite things about London:
* Jump on a bus-tactics - the geniuos idea of London buses is that they all seem to start somewhere out of town, drive through many central sights and then continue to another destination outside London. With a good map and a day-card, this is a brilliant way to go exploring.
* The Temple - I walk through the narrow passages and across the blooming courts of Inner and Middle Temple and imagine myself this place nearly thousand years ago, when knights Templar and munks lived here. This area is a real beauty! Accessable through the Temple Bar on Fleet Street or from the Embankment.
* London renewal process - Although there is 2000 years of history in the streets of London, and until recently, very little controlled and planned development, (brits like tradition), London always seem to adopt to new times. Architecture, fashion, music.... It's also impressing how London now coordinate public transport through ONE company, the TFL.

Sfinx watching the old Cleopatras Needle
Sfinx watching the old Cleopatras Needle
Here's a number of "must see" museums:
* Tate Britain - The great collection of british art
* Tate Modern - An icon of a gallery containing modern art.
* National Gallery - One of the worlds largest collections of european art
* Britisk Museum - hosts all the loots collected by the British Empire.
* British Library - Magna Carta etc.
* Victoria and Albert - The greatest collection of decorative art and design in the world, over 4 million objects.

London Eye - the biggest "Paris Wheel" in the world. Splendid view of London when your carriage reach the top. Takes 30 minutes to complete a turn.

Important monuments:
* Wellington Arch - Napoleon wars triumphal arch, location Hyde Park Corner.
* Marble Arch - location Hyde Park, near Speakers corner
* Eros - location Piccadilly Circus
* Nelson Column - sorrounded by lions and pigeons at Traf. Square
* The Cenotaph - WW1 + 2 memory, location Whitehall
* Cleopatras Needle - 3500 years old, location Embankment

Copthorne Tara Hotel
Copthorne Tara Hotel
Hotels in London are known for being expensive, but there are ways to avoid this problem:
* - Check for special rates/offers
* Buying a complete travel, including tickets and hotel. This may come out cheaper
* If you can live with less standard and shared bathrooms... a two star hotel may suit you.
* Get to know some locals and stay with them for free... :-)
* Sleeping in the parks are not so smart. You may end up on a corner selling "Big Issue"...

I have used both 2, 3 and 4 star hotels in London. Here's my descriptions:
** Albatross Hotel, 13 Talbot Square. Hotel/Youth hostel with 8-bed rooms. OK if you dont care that your shower/toilet is in the stairways.
*** Lancaster Hotel, 4-6 Bedford Place. This hotel has shared toilets in the halls, but is nice and clean with a beautiful backyard garden.
**** Copthorne Tara Hotel, Scarsdale Place. Huge hotel with private bathrooms, 2 restaurants and all facilities. Experts on rooms for disabled people.

Canary Wharf
Canary Wharf
My definition of nightlife in this context will be musical experiences in London, of which I have had some:
* As 12 year old flutist I played 2 concerts in London with Lee Valley Youth Orchestra (which I don't think exist anymore..)
* The Proms - The Proms season in Royal Albert Hall offers classical concerts every day
* St. Martin in the Fields - Concerts by Candlelight, concerts many days a week. Chamber orchestras, quartets and soloists. The Clever thing with this church is that the artist and public are able to encounter "backstage" in the crypt.
* Dover Street Jazz Club and Restaurant. Deliciuos food combined with daily concerts.
* Royal Opera House - a respected opera house in Covent Garden.

The Canary Wharf area offers several bars and restaurant in a modern and busy environment. My fascination is the high buildings of steel, concrete and glass, alongside docks and quays, narrow bridges and yachts. The area is somewhat expensive, but I enjoyed it.

Camden Locks Market
Camden Locks Market
If shopping as hanging out (it is at least "hanging in" for us men...) then I devote this chapter to London shopping. Here's my experiences:
* Oxford Street - very crowdy, but all major stores are present.
* Kensington High Street - The same stores as Oxford Street, but not so crowdy and less distance to walk.
* Kings Road - For vintage and design.... and Habitat!
* Camden Lock Markets - very young and crowdy market, even with specialities for goths
* Portabello Road - Interesting objects for sale, but way too crowdy
* Vintage books in Charing Cross Road

Other recommendations:
Camden Locks
Camden Locks
Well, a hundred more things can be said about London. I have tried to write down a combination of my personal experiences and facts. I sincerely hope that my report can help first-travellers to London to plan their stay and get the most of it.

When do I return???? :-)

Published on Tuesday September 5th, 2006

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Thu, Feb 14 2008 - 08:12 AM rating by krisek

This is a great report, indeed. For the benefit of others, as time flies, here are some updates: single fare on Tube is now £4, but if you get an electronic pre-pay Oyster Card, it is less than £2, depending on the distance travelled. The Routemaster buses will remain operating on a few historical routes, like 9, 15, 24. Children travel free on buses. The Cutty Sark has been removed for renovation, and some of it tragically burnt down... and so did parts of the Camden Market. Best regards, Krys

Tue, Oct 03 2006 - 10:59 AM rating by eirissa

A great report, I enjoyed reading it, thanks:)

Mon, Oct 02 2006 - 05:05 AM rating by andreas

What a fantastic report! I just wish I would have read it before I went there last week :-) But as you wrote..."when do I return?", is the question running around my head right that moment. Proberbly very soon!

Sat, Sep 23 2006 - 11:50 PM rating by marianne

You summed up almost everything there is to see in London. It will take more than one holiday to see everything. I especially liked your info on public transport.

Sun, Sep 10 2006 - 03:13 AM rating by gloriajames

Great report and thanks for bringing back memories of my student days for me, plus the pic of Inner Temple reminded me of my dining days. Great info and pics..well done mate! 5*

Thu, Sep 07 2006 - 01:19 PM rating by madness

nice report terje

Wed, Sep 06 2006 - 04:13 PM rating by mistybleu

Nice report; also a fresh approach.


Wed, Sep 06 2006 - 12:19 PM rating by st.vincent

This is a fine report Terje and you are correct that the Routemaster buses are missed by both visitors and locals. I've also learned something as I would never have guessed that Kew Gardens was a World Heritage Site.
Thanks for a great report. Clive

Tue, Sep 05 2006 - 07:11 AM rating by frenchfrog

Fantastic report of London, it sound if a londonner would have write it! Well done. I am glad you enjoyed yourself.

Tue, Sep 05 2006 - 05:47 AM rating by mrscanada

Fabulous review about London Towne.


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